Historically, malls have not been recognized as centers of culinary excellence. Amid a sea of Sbarro, Orange Julius and Auntie Anne’s, your average food court is rarely a place for interesting local cuisine. Gateway, however, goes against expectations. The mall-turned-entertainment complex now boasts a growing list of unique restaurants and bars in an unlikely food hub.
These new (or new) restaurants are part of the larger revitalization of The Gateway. The gateway opened in 2001, when the Winter Olympics were on the horizon and physical malls still dominated retail. During its tumultuous second decade, however, The Gateway’s fortunes changed. The $1.5 billion City Creek Center opened in 2012, ripping out many of its department stores, online shopping has sapped mall revenues nationwide and the Rio Grande area was plagued with high crime and a bad reputation. In the late 2010s, tumbleweeds blew through the once bustling hallways.
Now, in 2022, The Gateway still won’t beat City Creek at the traditional mall game, as it is, but do we really need more malls? The walkway had to, as the business types say, pivot and get creative with its expansive downtown space. From hosting the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival to regular events throughout the pandemic like flea markets, art walks, and yoga and beer, The Gateway is banking on experiences, culture, food, and culture. pleasure. Remember when Kanye stopped by for an impromptu Sunday service in 2019? Was it a dream?
The Gateway 2.0 invites you to hang out with a beer, throw a party, or treat the family to a one-of-a-kind dinner (often in the same restaurant). This social model, the most experienced in person, can be complicated because new variants are seemingly always around the corner, threatening our good times. But if you’re venturing again, The Gateway is worth a visit.
This new concept, on the site of the ephemeral Punch Bowl Social, presents itself as a kitchen and a “sports club”. What does that mean exactly? In WingerIn the case of , that means the massive space — 17,500 square feet — has the leeway to be a bit of a sports bar, a bit of a nightclub (they threw a New Year’s Eve party with Lil’ Jon) and a bit of an entertainment spot, with a lounge and bowling alley, private karaoke rooms, and a golf simulator. Their food offerings fall somewhere between elevated pub food and casual steak house. For starters, there are Greek-inspired tavernas with tzatziki and a Mediterranean twist of pico de gallo, grilled chicken wings and, if you like seafood, funnel-shaped lobster fritters. The brisket tacos with grilled cheese tortillas are delicious. For dessert, there’s golden cherry pie – a turnover, basically – or a birthday cake milkshake topped (deep breath) with a cupcake, cookie, marshmallow, whipped cream AND candy. It sounds as outrageous as it sounds.
This dining room (not court) is a first for Utah and comes from owner Reed Slobusky and chef Marc Marrone. Marrone developed menus for several small fast-casual restaurants under the same roof, leaving room for experimentation with new ideas. lean fats divides the menu evenly between “happy” and “healthy” (although the buffalo cauliflower I tried didn’t taste like a particularly “unhappy” diet food.) Graffiti Bao, an Asian street food-inspired menu includes kung pao chicken bao rolls and Vietnamese spring rolls and is influenced by Marrone cuisine in Singapore and Vietnam. CodSpeed and colossal lobster sell fish and chips and lobster rolls. The draft room beer zombies has local craft beer on tap. And, because fried chicken is a must these days, thunder flame offers a main dish: Nashville Hot Chicken. (A manager promised me spices that went beyond “hot Utah.”) Marrone has an impressive mastery of a variety of cuisines — all menus are united by dishes that are affordable, accessible, and flavorful. And, thank goodness, it’s open after 10 p.m. on weekends.
Besides HallPass, Marrone is developing another new restaurant for The Gateway, a sit-down restaurant inspired by its Italian-American origins. Marrone will update regional favorites from his childhood, including artisan pasta, lamb braised in red wine and salmon crudo over polenta. Marrone hopes to open italian graffiti some time this year.
Perfect for a quiet nightcap, this cozy (read: tiny) bar on the upper level of the walkway is a downtown hangout that seems removed from the crowds of the nearby main street. The menu is simple – a few snacks, a small variety of craft cocktails (old fashioned mezcal for traditional whiskey) and homemade mixers to take home. Perhaps best of all is Seabird’s extensive vinyl collection, because everything tastes better with a side of Fleetwood Mac.
Want more at The Gateway?
Try shabu shabu, a Japanese hot dish that literally translates to “swish swish”, at Mr Shabu. For dessert, there are mochi donuts (ice candy made from rice flour and tapioca) at Mom or an ice cream rolled in a “taco waffle” at Sweet taco wraps. If you fancy something more upscale, The Gateway also has Utah’s only by Fleming location.
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